Christmas Without Borders

18 December 2023

The recipes inspired by Christmas memories of Michele Casadei Massari, Roy Caceres, Riccardo Orfino, and Katsumi Soga

The world of haute cuisine is one in which barriers and territorial boundaries are increasingly subtle. Often the great chefs are professionals who have travelled and worked in more than one country, learning to appreciate blending recipes with distant origins and local ingredients with a unique and personal touch. That is why for Christmas 2023, Franciacorta has decided to celebrate its growing international presence giving you five recipes created by chefs who experience first-hand the cosmopolitan character of fine dining, meaning Italian chefs who have opened successful restaurants abroad and chefs from other parts of the world who work in important Italian restaurants.
Michele Casadei Massari, Roy Caceres, Riccardo Orfino, Katsumi Soga and Valerio Serino are the chefs who have shared dishes inspired by their Christmas memories with us.
For each recipe, a specially created Franciacorta pairing to accompany your dishes and toasts in the best way possible could not be lacking.

Tortellini Bologna-New York
Michele Casadei Massari’s Christmas recipe is a tribute to the alcoholic adventure of Breaking Bad’s two protagonists.
Each of us gives Christmas – and the excitement-filled anticipation leading up to it – a different meaning: there are those who can’t wait to buy a new tree ornament, others who are thrilled by the little lights hanging in the city streets, and some of us practise all year round to compete with Mariah Carey and Michael Bublé. And for everyone, including those who experience the festivities in their more spiritual and less consumeristic realm, Christmas means “home”. The house we grew up in but also the house we chose to live in. And with them the past and present sentiments that have helped sculpt the memories, scents and flavours – at least one day a year – that we simply cannot do without.
So this year we asked some Italian chefs working abroad and others who are not Italian but work here to share “their” Christmas recipe with us, whether a traditional dish from their homelands, or a personal reinterpretation of it, the result of experiences developed while travelling from one home to another.
Michele Casadei Massari, born in Riccione and raised in Bologna, chased the American dream with the stubbornness that characterises both Emilia and Romagna, and which became reality in 2008 when the Lucciola restaurant, just steps away from Central Park, was opened. A chef, entrepreneur, designer, photographer and radio speaker, he has enthusiastically embraced the contradictions and contaminations that characterise his adopted country, evident in the recipe he has chosen to describe for us.
Classic tortellini in broth become the subject of a Balanzone-style joke with a Mexican taste: one in five tortellini is filled with a jelly made with Mezcal Dos Hombres, the distillate produced by Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul, stars of the television series Breaking Bad. Massari, impressed by the gastronomic qualities of this interesting development on the agave-based spirits scene, aimed to put it on the menu for these holidays using a sacred dish from the Emilian gastronomic tradition.

Christmas Eve Soup
Roy Caceres’ Christmas recipe is a heart-warming tribute to Colombia.
Roy Caceres is a “tree that grew in Italy but with Latin roots”. Of Colombian origin, he was raised by his grandparents – his grandfather, a Syrian, his grandmother, a Spaniard – weaned on hummus and pan y tomate, and has chosen to bring this contamination of flavours and aromas to the city of Rome, where he is leaving his personal mark with the Orma restaurant.
Caceres’ Christmas recipe is one that tastes like home, the one in Bogotá: Ajiaco is “the” Christmas Eve dish in the capital. It may change slightly from family to family, but without losing its comforting character and highly representative of Colombian cultural diversity: indigenous, Spanish and African influences intermingle in a creamy soup made with chicken, potatoes and guasca leaves, served in typical black earthenware bowls and enjoyed with the family, whether the family of origin or the adoptive one.

Fusilli that are fragrant with forest and home
Riccardo Orfino’s Christmas recipe is a childhood memory, comfortable as only a good dish of pasta can be.
Paduan by origin, Milanese by adoption and New Yorker by choice, Riccardo Orfino chose the Big Apple to make his entrepreneurial dream come true. Osteria 57 caters to all palates with vegetarian and vegan options, while never overlooking fish and always showing consideration for those who are gluten-intolerant. An ethical and clean cuisine that is committed to “teaching” locals an Italian taste that goes beyond the old school of spaghetti and meatballs and fettucine Alfredo.
The Christmas recipe that Orfino has chosen to share with us fully embraces this philosophy and arises from a childhood memory that tastes like home: a plate of handmade fusilli pasta garnished with his grandmother’s fragrant “red sauce”, prepared with mushrooms picked by his grandfather and topped off with toasted walnuts.

The soba of longevity
Katsumi Soga’s Christmas dish is a wish for a healthy and long-lived life on loan from the Japanese New Year
Born on the slopes of Mount Fuji, Katsumi Soga bought a one-way ticket to Italy in 2006. After numerous experiences in prestigious hotels and restaurants, in 2020 he became executive chef of IYO Experience, a restaurant of innovative sushi and contemporary Japanese haute cuisine, now an integral part of the Milanese gastronomic heritage. Oriental austerity and Italian hospitality are the pillars on which Claudio and Ilaria Liu – both of Chinese origin – have built a very personal and authentic culinary identity without being traditional.
The dish that Katsumi Soga has chosen to share with us is profoundly traditional. Christmas is not celebrated in Japan; instead, the New Year celebrations are particularly important. To greet the last day of the year – omisoka in Japanese – eating a dish of Toshikoshi soba is customary: these are long buckwheat noodles served in a steaming bowl of dashi broth. A wish for health and longevity that the chef loves to exchange with his wife even now that he lives in Italy.

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